February 22, 2016

H-1B CAP Season – Fiscal Year 2017


On April 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 cap. Employers use the H-1B visa program to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including but not limited to: scientists, doctors, engineers, accountants, and computer analysts and programmers.

There is still time to initiate a cap-subject H-1B case with our firm. Before filing a petition with USCIS, an employer must electronically file and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL). This is something that our firm handles on behalf of our clients. If an employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) has previously been verified by the DOL, then the LCA certification normally takes seven business days. If an employer has never before filed an H-1B petition, then the FEIN must first be verified by the DOL, which takes an additional three to five business days, before an LCA may be filed. Please keep these preliminary steps in mind when planning your timeline for a cap-subject H-1B petition.

USCIS will accept petitions from April 1-7, 2016, at which time they will submit all properly filed petitions to a “lottery” and randomly select the petitions that will be receipted and adjudicated. Congress has mandated that only 65,000 H-1B visas may be approved each year, with 20,000 additional visas set aside for applicants who earned an advanced degree from a U.S. university (the “Master’s Cap”). The Master’s Cap lottery is conducted first and petitions not selected there are placed in the general cap lottery for a second chance at one of the 65,000 visas. Petitions not accepted in either lottery will be rejected and returned, along with their unused filing fees.

For more information about the H-1B program, or if you have interest in applying for an H-1B Visa for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, please contact our office.

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